Back in Tokyo for our last 4 nights in this beautiful country. We took the Bullet Train from Kyoto to Tokyo, then a commuter (rapid) train to the neighborhood of our hotel – Kichijoji. The Bullet Train is a dream of efficiency, speed, comfort, and oh-so-easy travel – but that also defines the entire transportation system of Japan from our experience. (The U.S.A. is behind the times to an embarrassing degree.) All of our travel has deposited us where we needed to be and when we needed to be there. This country embodies the definition of dependability. Not one train, bus, cab, or meal has been late or cancelled. The Japanese people respect and honor time.
After a short rest in our room, we hit the streets. This being a Sunday evening, logic would indicate a quiet street scene. No so! This town is vibrant, active, very crowded, and fun. Here in Kichijoji we encountered our first busker in Japan. The tools of his trade are electric piano, kazoo (!), violin, and kick-drum. We missed most of his set but were lucky enough to hear his rendition of Danny Boy – no dirge, this. Smiles and laughter, dancing, little kids running around in unintentionally rhythmic circles, – he worked his audience well and we were happy to contribute to his future.
The shops in this area offer much more than the usual, high-end items as seen in other neighborhoods of Tokyo. Here we see many hand-made and unique items not seen elsewhere, and this has been one of the few shopping experiences I have enjoyed. We encountered no other westerners this evening and received a few double-takes, but we have been treated well and my attempts at speaking the language have been received with enthusiastic nods. They are polite and patient, these folks!
The realization that our time in Japan is coming to an end brings so many different emotions – we’ve only seen our daughter twice (but that changes as of tomorrow!), I wish I had studied the written language before coming (that takes years), and I wish I was a better gardener (that takes a lifetime). I have always required time to process experiences – both negative or positive – and this trip, which has been wonderful, will be worked over in my mind for years to come. But this home-body who also loves to travel can say with certainty – this is a country I will return to. And be very happy to do so.